Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/370

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appliances; electric bells—all intended to minimize service at the expense of an increased original outlay. If the occupant of a suite in a New York apartment-house, who has abandoned a self-contained house, is asked the reason, he will probably say, "I pay just as much rent, but I get along now with fewer servants."

The tendency observable on all hands to provide durability in the stead of flimsiness, the most elaborate and complete machinery for anything short of it, is accompanied by another tendency in no sense economical. When banks and office-buildings display floors of rich mosaic, walls and ceilings of variegated marble, staircases of Mexican onyx, it is evident that luxury brings a price as well as wholesomeness and commodiousness. Throughout the Union every considerable city has its structures of this type discovering the sky, mostly erected by insurance companies who seem to be hedging on the fall in the rate of interest by reaching out after unearned increment.

Rent has been affected in diverse ways by the cheapening of secure loans. In so far as mining privileges and the like can be worked with less cost for the hire of capital than ever, their net income, rent or royalty, has increased. Farming lands of all kinds but the best situated or the most fertile have tended to fall in rent as massed capital has become cheaper. Railroads, in opening up vast tracts of new territory with great rapidity, have kept the values of even the best farming land lower than they would otherwise have been. In the same direction also has operated the lowered rate at which money can now be borrowed on farm buildings and machinery. In the cities and larger towns rents have risen remarkably within twenty years, yet the rise would have been greater still had not the rate of interest dropped. Rent in cities and towns, as elsewhere, depends upon two values—that of land apart from improvements, and that of improvements. The first of these values is determined by the comparative salubrity, publicity, convenience, and beauty of sites; other things equal, it will tend to rise as the income of the average citizen rises—with the increase of ability to compete for advantages desired. The rental value of improvements, of all that capital adds in preparing for a building, constructing it, and fitting it up, will tend to approximate to the rate of interest payable on approved real-estate security. In New York city, where land is usually more valuable than the buildings which cover it, low terms for mortgage interest have not affected rents so much as in smaller cities where buildings are as valuable as or more valuable than their sites. Last spring a block of tenement-houses in New York sold at a price so high as to realize its purchaser but six per cent as a gross return on his investment. If his rents remain unchanged, any further fall in the rate of interest will enhance the price of his property. This